The Police Department is going pink for a cause in support of one of their own.
To support Breast Cancer Awareness month, the department has launched a campaign during October to cover every police cruiser with pink ribbons donated by members of the community.
"Every ribbon has a story and we want them to know we're behind them fighting," Officer Dan Trocki said of the ribbons, which are magnetic and can be purchased for $10 each in honor or in memory of a loved one now through Oct. 31.
The ribbons are available for purchase through MishStrong.org and all money raised goes to support a scholarship fund started in memory of Michelle Benedetti, wife of Haverhill police Detective Joseph Benedetti. She lost her battle with breast cancer last year.
As the ribbon-covered cruisers travel around Haverhill during October, they will let residents affected by breast cancer know they are supported by the Police Department.
The idea of putting the ribbons on police cruisers first came from Trocki and was endorsed by police Capt. Robert Pistone, Michelle Benedetti's brother Mark DeLuca and others involved with MishStrong.
"We set up MishStrong because Michelle was so active in the community and when she passed, there was a void there," DeLuca said. "The thought of seeing the cruisers going around and knowing that the Haverhill Police Department thought of us is unbelievable."
DeLuca said the scholarship fund in his sister's memory supports the college education of four graduating high school seniors. Those students are selected for scholarships based on their connection to causes Michelle Benedetti cared about, her brother said. Scholarships are given to a senior pursuing a career in social work, one who enjoys running, and students who have had their lives affected by cancer or the foster care system.
An avid runner in her spare time, Michelle Benedetti worked for the state Department of Children and Families. For devoting her career to children across the state, she was awarded the One With Courage award from the Essex Children's Advocacy Center and the Essex County District Attorney's Office in April 2019.
Haverhill police Lt. Doreen Champagne, who works with Detective Benedetti, was first introduced to Michelle years ago during Champagne's own breast cancer struggle. Champagne said Michelle helped her learn to live fearlessly and be brave — no matter what life brought.
"(Michelle's outreach to me) was the most unconditional, authentic act of kindness I've seen from someone," said Champagne, who will be five years cancer-free in March. "She boldly put herself in my path and within five minutes was a new friend for life. She let me know about her experiences — she was there for me — and that's the kind of person she was. The legacy she leaves through the MishStrong charity is so important to us and we want to see it thrive."